Parly’s mining committee to conduct state capture probe
Parliament’s mineral resources committee has resolved to set up an oversight inquiry into state capture in the mining industry after Minister Mosebenzi Zwane failed to pitch at a meeting to answer questions about the Estina Dairy farm.
“The committee could no longer entertain further postponements from the Minister and took a decision to institute an inquiry. Members had outstanding questions from the initial Q&A session and they now reserve their right to ask them during the inquiry,” committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipo said.
Zwane was due to respond to questions about the controversial Free State farm and his role in alleged corruption related to its ownership transfer and operations.
But he did not arrive at Wednesday’s session in Cape Town, compelling committee members to debate whether a subpoena is necessary.
Zwane told committee members that he was due to answer questions in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday, but this was exposed as a lie after it emerged that the NCOP was not scheduled to have an independent session.
The Economic Freedom Fighters committee representative Thembinkosi Rawula then proposed that the questions to Zwane be deferred to a formal inquiry that would be broad enough to interview companies as well as government officials.
This proposal was seconded by the ANC’s Imamile Pikinini, who said the committee had waited long enough for the minister, to no avail.
The inquiry will mimic the investigations currently being conducted by Parliament’s public enterprises committee, Luzipo said.
“So we are resolving to withdraw your questions that you still needed to ask the minister and reserve the right to ask them during the inquiry,” Luzipo said.
He said the committee should “investigate whether there are any issues of state capture that we could look at”.
But the official scope of the inquiry and its terms of reference have not yet been finalised and the committee resolved to seek legal advice on this before going ahead.
The committee would not seek to prove state capture in the mining industry beyond a responsible doubt, Luzipo said.
Instead, they would only investigate whether “at balance of probabilities, has there been undue influence on how issues are conducted in relation to mineral resources”..